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CoronaBlog #1 3/18/2020


It is Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and COVID-19/CoronoVirus is spreading across the land. The rate of infection is a doubling of cases about every 3 days. The history books will record what is happening, but I wanted to put down what it has been like for one suburban dweller.

Last Thursday were told to get ready to be able to work from home, test your VPN connection, etc. By the time Friday rolled around, we were told on Monday, to begin working from home. Also on that Friday, the governor of Illinois ordered all schools closed as of yesterday. My son has been home the past two days and is adapting pretty well, so far. Us adults are little freaked out. Yes, the stores have been emptied of toilet paper, paper towels, and many other cleaning supplies. I took today off, I just needed a mental break to get adjusted to this social distancing. We went out late last night for a few more supplies, and out again today to complete our gathering. We are pretty well stocked, thankfully. I know they say the grocery stores will stay open, but goodness knows how long that will be the case.

All of the restaurants, bars, coffee shops, are all closed to inside customers. Just delivery and drive through. It is all just so surreal at this point. Today I sent out my last retro repair order, I had so many orders for the last few months, and now it has just dropped to nothing. I am sure it will stay like this a while. Writing this all down is therapeutic, I think I will try to post once a day to just keep this for posterity.

One thing I did notice is the how uneven the hoarding was in the stores. Paper products, cleaning supplies, old fashioned oat meal, dried beans, and for some reason, breakfast sausages are hard to come by. Bacon is plentiful. Makes no sense at all. We do not know how long this will last, or even if there will be a shelter in place order will be commanded for our state. Speaking of that, there has been really poor co-ordination at the national level. I knew Trump would be bad in a crisis, but, holy hell, not this bad.

Finally, working from home is all new to me.  I did have to go in for a few hours yesterday to run a test, but it really is a mixed bag working from home.  The commute is great and my office is setup well, but I miss the water-cooler chats and just being around work friends.  I just don’t know what will happen with employment, long term.  I am sure we are in for a recession/depression the like virtually no one alive now has seen.


Posted by on March 18, 2020 in Corona Virus Blog, COVID-19

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“New” to me

Exploring more old technology.  Over the last few weeks, I have been exploring more outdated technology, continuing my theme of 2000’s, I have picked up an AlphaSmart 3000 and a Canon EOS Rebel XT,  from 2000 and 2005, respectively.  I already had an AphlaSmart Dana Wireless, which is awesome, but I wanted to try something simpler.  The display is small compared to the Dana, just a four line alphanumeric with no graphics at all.  It runs a very simple operating system and software, but it is very fast.  The keyboard is good, but not as good as the dana, which has a lighter touch and feels like more of a premium keyboard, but it is more that usable.  In terms of features, it has 8 file storage, spellchecker, a calculator, and that’s it.  No touchscreen, no backlight, no SD storage.  I think what most concerns me is the limited storage of the 3000.  It can hold about 100 pages of text, which should be enough, but it does not compare to my Dana, which can use 2 SD cards for storage and can hold millions of pages of text.  On the other hand, the 3000 has battery life which is rated at 700 hours!  This is amazing compared to the 20 hours on my Dana wireless.  I weighs quite a bit less as well.  Overall, I do like the 3000, the keyboard is not my favorite, but it is perfectly fine for what it is.  I have a couple of segments out on my LCD, I may open it up and see if there is a loose connection if I get a chance.

The Canon ESO Rebel XT, on the other hand, has really exceeded my expectations for a camera from 2005.  It is an eight megapixel DSLR, my first.  I never knew the fun you could have with interchangeable lenses and a much larger sensor.  Even in 2019 the photos look great.  I have already taken more than 2000 photos with this new to me camera and I am enjoying learning a whole new skill.   All of the most recent photo posts have been taken with the XT.  I’ll keep you all updated on all this ‘new’ technology works for me.  As always, if you use these devices as they were originally intended, they work perfectly and are still relevant 15 to 20 years later.


Posted by on November 12, 2019 in Computers



Lomography is a type of low fidelity photography.  You can use actual film, or a digital camera with a crappy, but delightful lens.  All the photos below were taken with a Digital Holga lens for EOS, 60mm “F8” ahem, not an F8, more like a F22, lens I paid a whopping $13 for.  Amazon Link


Posted by on November 11, 2019 in Photos

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Playing around with my Minolta 50mm prime lens.


Posted by on November 5, 2019 in Photos

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Photo journey, DSLR

I have used many cameras over the years, but I have never made the jump to interchangeable lens cameras like DSLR or mirrorless.  I decided to change this and try to build up the cheapest, but most entertaining ‘kit’ possible.  My goal is to learn about photography, not spend $4,000 on excessive gear.  That being said, here is what I have amassed so far:

Camera Body:

Canon EOS Rebel XT, DSLR.  Entry level DSLR from 2004.  8 megapixel, APS-C sensor.  Came with kit lens, 18 to 55mm, F3.5ish. EF-S mount.   Around $70, shipped, from eBay.

Zoom Lens:

Tamron 85-210mm, F4.5 to 22.  FD mount, adapted to EF mount, $10, eBay.

Prime Lenses:

JCPenny 28mm, F2.8 to 16, wide angle lens.  MD (Minolta) mount, adapted to EF.  $8.50, eBay.

Minolta, 50mm, F 2.0 to 22, “Normal” or portrait lens.  MD mount, adapted to EF, $15, eBay.  My favorite lens so far.

Other miscellaneous stuff:  CF to SD card adapter, so I can make the leap into the 21st century. $12, Canon IR remote, $7.99, Camera strap, $15, camera bag, wife was able to snag for free, and ball head tripod, $60.

So far, I have kept it right around $200 for everything.  The most fun I have had is with a prime lens, the 50mm.  It makes you compose shots differently, since you have to get closer and it makes a fantastic macro lens.  All of the photos of lenses above were taken with the XT, with the 50mm, except for the photos of the Camera and the prime lens, which was taken with the kit lens or borrowed from online.

Macro capabilities

A shout out to Canon, even with this 15 year old camera, I can still download the Digital Photo professional, latest version, just had to type in my serial number.  The biggest difference I have noticed between shooting with point and shoots and my phone is the color reproduction is spot on and I can control the depth of field.

I have been shooting in RAW and jpeg and learning how this all works.  No masterpieces yet, but I am learning.  I plan to be shooting fall colors this weekend.  Ironically, the photos I posted last year were taken at the forest preserve less than 100 yards from my new house!  I can compare and contrast how the new camera performed and enjoy nature.


Posted by on October 25, 2019 in Photos

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